Thinking of serving as the trustee of a trust?
We offer trust administration services for those who want to accept the role of trustee and need help. There are many duties and responsibilities that go along with assuming the role of trustee, including the risk of incurring personal liability. Besides other things, there are statutory notice requirements that must be met, payment of creditors and expenses, income and estate tax issues, and beneficiary distributions.
It is important to understand that as trustee, you will not personally own the trust assets. A trustee has a duty to safeguard trust assets for both the current beneficiaries and the remainder beneficiaries who will receive the assets after the current beneficiaries die. Trustees are entitled to reasonable compensation for their service and can hire professionals, such as legal counsel and tax professionals, to assist them with their duties under the trust.
A trustee has significant fiduciary duties and you will be held to a very high standard of care in administering the trust if you accept the appointment. A trustee also risks possible exposure to personal liability. The duties of a trustee are many and, some of them are set forth below. If you serve as trustee, you must:
- Read the trust document carefully, both at inception of serving as trustee and any time you have questions about your duties;
- Follow the directions set forth in the trust document;
- Keep all trust bank accounts and investments separate and avoid mixing assets with your own assets;
- If applicable, invest trust assets in a prudent manner calculated to result in reasonable growth/return with minimum risk, avoiding risky or speculative investments;
- Maintain clear and accurate records of the trust administration;
- Account to the trust beneficiaries as provided by law and in the trust;
- File tax returns and pay any taxes due;
- Avoid favoring any beneficiaries and treat them all the same, unless the trust authorizes you to do so; and
- Avoid using the trust assets for your own benefit, unless the trust authorizes you, as trustee, to do so.
There are other responsibilities and duties that fall to the trustee and we are familiar with them. If you have agreed to act as a trustee, we can guide you through the administration process. Our services are tailored to the level of assistance you need as trustee. A trust administration case can be complex and time consuming. We have the tools to make it as easy as possible for you and can provide solutions you can understand.
Are you a trust beneficiary?
Trust beneficiaries are the persons and/or organizations named in the trust to receive the trust assets after the grantor dies. Trust beneficiaries have certain rights, the scope of which depend on the trust and the type of beneficiary you are. Beneficiaries have a right to make sure the trustee is acting properly and is carrying out the terms of the trust.
To the extent provided for in the trust, beneficiaries have the right to:
- Receive distributions provided for in the trust;
- Be informed about the administration of the trust and of the material facts necessary to protect their interests;
- Receive an annual accounting from the trustee or waive an accounting;
- Receive a final accounting prior to distribution;
- Ask the court to remove a trustee they believe is not acting in their best interests;
- Ask the court to end the trust, in some instances, if the purpose of the trust has been fulfilled or is impossible and all current and remainder beneficiaries agree.
If you are a beneficiary of a trust, we can help ensure your rights are protected.